By John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
A National Rural Education Association Task Force recently released a report on school consolidation. The task force studied the history and research on school consolidation and issued a series of recommendations.
Their report stresses several crucial findings:
1. “Size” does not guarantee success – effective schools come in all sizes:
- There is no “ideal” size for schools or districts.
- Smaller districts have higher achievement and affective social outcomes.
- There is no solid foundation for the belief that eliminating school districts will improve
education, enhance cost-effectiveness, or promote equality.
- Students from low-income areas have better achievement in small schools.
2. Consolidation is not always the answer:
- The educational and financial results of state-mandated school district consolidations do not
meet legislated expectations.
- The larger a district becomes, the more resources are devoted to secondary or non-essential
- Local school officials should be wary of merging several smaller elementary schools, at least if
the goal is improved performance.
- After a school closure, out-migration, population decline, and neighborhood deterioration are
set in motion, and support for public education diminishes.
The task force supports local decision-making processes of rural school districts and opposes arbitrary consolidation efforts at the state and local levels, citing a lack of evidence that such intervention is necessary. The report concludes that rural communities should make every possible effort to maintain a physical school presence, and rural community and school leaders should take into account every possible variable to decide if “two are better than one.”
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Center for Rural Affairs
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